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Report on Christian institutions in Gaza

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Through one of our labor intensive grants, we assisted NECC’s Qarrarah Vocational Training Center in Khan Younis by constructing an additional training room that helped enhance facilities and will allow more students to study disciplines that are in high demand, such as electrical engineering. Our brief visit entailed the inspection of the work and a meeting with director of the VTC to discuss future plans as a result of this expansion. He was happy to report that the VTC can now admit more students starting this coming fall that will help meet the growing demand for electricians in the Gaza Strip.

In addition to this vocational training center, NECC operates another two vocational training centers in Gaza that also offer a wide variety of programs including carpentry, blacksmith/ aluminum works, tailoring and sewing and an executive secretarial program. The demand on these various programs is quite high though the current job opportunities in some of these disciplines are in question given the continuing blockade. However, many feel that once building supplies are allowed back into Gaza and the long awaited building boom starts, these trainees will be in high demand and will have a profession in hand.

Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City

This hospital was built in 1907 by the Anglican Church, which continues to operate it. The hospital has a total of 80 beds, only 50 of which are used at the present time given the financial difficulties. Hospital staff report that the electric generator works non-stop 18 hours per day, which is wearing it down dramatically given the heaviest duty generators are not made for long-term use. The cost of running the generator to ensure uninterrupted power supply, especially to a hospital that has surgical theaters, is $18,000 per month!

Despite the difficulties, this hospital offers a varied number of services through its maternity, outpatient clinics, emergency rooms, including intensive care, gynecology, pediatrics, ENT and general surgery in addition to physiotherapy departments.

Another major component of the hospital’s work is its involvement with the community through its community outreach program, supporting the elderly, women and children in marginalized neighborhoods. Screening and transportation are provided in their early diagnostic prevention program in a variety of fields including breast cancer. For example, if a patient is unable to come to the hospital, a team of medical staff will visit the patient at their home providing diagnostic tests and treatment when necessary. Most of the services are free, but in some cases for a minimal fee. In fact, I was shocked to hear that a delivery including a three-day mandatory stay at the newly opened maternity ward, including a newborn wellness program, costs a mere NIS 200 (approximately $50). Needless to say, many cannot even afford to pay this negligible fee. We toured all the wards in this spotless hospital and discussed some of the emerging needs in operating support, equipment, program costs and moved on without a concrete plan, but we have many ideas.

Myrrh Bearers Greek Orthodox Society

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